No. 25 Auburn rolls past FCS foe Alabama State 62-0

National Sports
Joshua Long, Sean Jackson,

Auburn running back Sean Jackson (44) caries the ball in for a touchdown as Alabama State lineman Joshua Long (98) defends during the second half of an NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Demetris Robertson scored three touchdowns and Jarquez Hunter rushed for 147 yards as No. 25 Auburn raced past FCS program Alabama State 62-0 on Saturday.

After a fast start in Bryan Harsin’s first game as head coach last week, Auburn (2-0) was held to just one offensive touchdown and fewer than 200 yards in the first half. But the Tigers erupted for 35 points in the third quarter to pull away with ease.

“The second half, we came and did what we wanted to do,” Harsin said. “We made the adjustments and executed those in the second half. The first half was a little bit sluggish. … But it was good to see our halftime adjustments actually show up.”

Robertson, who transferred from SEC rival Georgia this summer, had three catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns and added a 36-yard touchdown run on a sweep in the third. Hunter, a freshman, broke the Auburn record for longest run with a 94-yard touchdown later in the quarter.

Auburn had a quiet first half but special teams excelled with a punt block and a field-goal block that was returned 80 yards for a touchdown by Nehemiah Pritchett. It marked the first time the Tigers have blocked two kicks in a game since their famous 2013 Iron Bowl win over Alabama.

Colby Wooden’s field-goal block in the first half helped preserve a shutout for Auburn’s defense, which scored its own touchdown when Roger McCreary returned an interception 35 yards in the third quarter.

Harsin credited Alabama State (1-1) for “having a good game plan” and forcing the heavily favored Tigers to make several changes during halftime.

“I thought our kids played hard,” Alabama State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. “The score is not indicative of how hard we played. We knew it was an uphill challenge, playing an SEC team. … But I was impressed with several phases of the day.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Auburn: After scoring five touchdowns on its first five drives in Week 1 against Akron, Auburn only scored 13 points in its first five drives against Alabama State. While the Tigers bounced back after halftime, the slow start will be a point of emphasis for Harsin and his staff ahead of a big trip to Penn State.

Alabama State: Although the Hornets needed overtime to knock off Division II’s Miles College in Week 1, they should be able to build off a better-than-expected start against SEC competition heading into FCS play.

RECORD-BREAKING START

Auburn recorded a combined 1,151 yards of total offense against Akron and Alabama State, which broke a program record for yardage through the first two games of the season set in 2009. The Tigers have also scored 60 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1932.

OFF AND RUNNING

Auburn’s Tank Bigsby rushed for 122 yards on 11 carries, giving him back-to-back 100-yard performances to open the season. Hunter, who took the No. 2 running back role Saturday in the absence of Shaun Shivers, has matched that feat in the first two games of his college career.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The No. 25 Tigers, who debuted in the poll this week, will most likely stay ranked but won’t get many style points for this victory over an FCS opponent.

UP NEXT

Auburn travels to face Penn State in a primetime showdown on Sept. 18.

Alabama State will have a week off before hosting Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 25.

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